It’s been a rough go of it for Jeff Okudah.
The 2020 third overall pick hasn’t spent a whole lot of time on the field. He had a rollercoaster of a rookie campaign, suiting up for nine games before groin surgery in late November. Then he ruptured his Achilles tendon in the very first game of 2021 and missed the rest of the year.
The expectations were sky high as a cornerback selected so early in the draft. Injuries, of course, take a physical toll, but you might imagine the mental toll of having to sit on the sidelines and work to get better — all while still feeling like you have something to prove.
With the season coming to a close and the team looking ahead at a busy offseason, a few Lions touched on how Okudah spent the season recovering and where he’s at now.
“He wanted to be around as much as he could be,” head coach Dan Campbell said Monday. “I mean, he reached out to me a couple of times just about wanting to be around the team and still feel like he was a part of it. He’s been up here rehabbing, he’s been working. And look, he’s hungry. I mean, he’s ready to go.”
“Jeff’s doing a nice job in his rehab,” general manager Brad Holmes said. “What I love about him is that he wanted to stay engaged and be around as much as possible. I just hated it for him when he got the injury because he was in such a good place you know just mentally and physically and when he got hurt it was just devastating.”
“His injury is pretty gruesome so he had his own kind of stuff that he had to deal with that — physically, mentally, everything that comes with that,” Amani Oruwariye said. “I’m so excited for next year for him because I saw him work with a purpose and with a mentality this offseason to set himself up for the season and to see him go down like that was just heartbreaking. I feel for him and I’m just excited for his future. I can’t wait to see cause it’s been two years and people still don’t know what Jeff Okudah can do. I’ve seen it. It’s just time for the world to really see.”
Hopefully we’ll hear more from Okudah himself but for now, this tweet says enough:
Excited for the new year. Praying for good health all 2022…— Jeff Okudah (@jeffokudah) January 1, 2022
And onto the rest of your notes.
- By the time this is posted you still have a few hours to vote for Amon-Ra St. Brown for Rookie of the Week. He’s been nominated five times and never won. Vote here.
- With the 2022 NFL Draft around the corner, Dave Birkett analyzes the 2021 draft class — who has excelled and who has not. ($)
- Speaking of that draft class, detroitlions.com’s Mike O’Hara explains that when it comes to the future, the Lions are looking for players they love and have shown that they fit their culture.
- Here’s a mock from the fellas at The Athletic in which they explain why taking a quarterback at No. 2 is not ideal. ($)
- Your final Sights and Sounds of the season from the Packers’ defeat. That Dan Campbell speech at the end made me want to run through a brick wall.